Throughout the 20th century we have seen every form of landscape, nude and other genre captured in gelatin silver and platinum prints by scores of brilliant artists. But to produce innovative black and white images in the 21st century that reveal something fresh and exciting, is indeed very difficult. Moreover, to find an artist who is capturing photographs of New York City, arguably the most photographed and documented city in the world, is even a greater challenge.
Croppi’s work stands out for its stark form and composition, juxtaposing solitary figures in some of the busiest and most chaotic areas of the city. Croppi himself seems to perceive the weakness of the objective world and the interior resonance that his dark tones and emptiness are capable of obtaining. The color black, so very dominant in this series, far from being a mere stylistic element, acts as a dramatic process. An estrangement is carried out by an obstinate focusing on all the particulars of the image, with the conviction, emphasized by the artist himself, that in photography the metaphysical dimension is strengthened by an extremely realistic or even a hyper-realistic language.
Faithful as always to an aesthetic which refuses traditional formalism, Croppi reaffirms this ability to grasp multiple phenomenologies constructed out of moments of reference to painting and literature, with a sense of applied temporality through superimposition and a collision of contrasting moments. Our concerns of the human condition are microcosms in these photographs: ghosts with elusive faces, petrified passers-by, swallowed up by shadows in a space which they are both victims and strangers at the same time.
Gabriele Croppi (1974) is a photography graduate of Milan’s Istituto Italiano di Fotografia, working both as a photographer and video maker. His research focuses on the relationship between photography and other arts, including painting, literature, film and architecture. Croppi has received international awards like the European Photo Exhibition Award (2012), International Photography Awards (2012, 2013, 2014) Golden Camera Award (2013). His images have been shown in several exhibitions around the world and are found in private and public collections. He lives in Italy and is based in Milan, where he works in publishing and teaches at the Istituto Italiano di Fotografia.
New York. Metaphysics of the Urban Landscape, photographs by Gabriele Croppi, foreword by Marla Hamburg Kennedy, Sime Books Publisher